[op-ed snap] NITI Aayog: An institution to fix implementation issues

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Q.1) “NITI Aayog is responsible for monitoring and evaluating government schemes.” Evaluate NITI Aayog’s performance on this.

From UPSC perspective, following thing are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the NITI Aayog

Mains level: The article gives information about a new way of implementing policies by the NITI Aayog. It should be critically examined. These kind of questions are well known in UPSC papers.

News

Context

  1. The article talks about NITI Aayog’s ‘Outcome based monitoring’

Outcome based monitoring of NITI Aayog

  1. NITI Aayog is engaged in outcome-based monitoring with states in sectors such as healthcare, education and water supply
  2. It is also discussing the idea of ranking each state based on health, education and water index, and identifying states with good performance
  3. For example, it has developed a composite water management index, comprising several key performance indicators, with different weights assigned to indicators
  4. This is expected to incentivise states to collect data and analyse it to make better policies

Possible Disadvantage of Outcome based monitoring

  1. Some experts suggests that owing to self-ranking by states without independent review, reforms remain mostly on paper with key concerns remaining unaddressed
  2. Also, legitimate beneficiaries may get excluded
  3. Consequently, such approach of self-ranking and comparing needs to be viewed with caution

What can we get from efficient policy implementation(possibly by NITI) in the states?

  1. Experts suggest that significant improvement in the ability to implement policies and projects in the states, cities, and at the centre can considerably add to citizens’ well-being
  2. And also, could even add about 2-3% to the country’s GDP, without any additional resources

The way forward

  1. Agencies struggling with implementation should not be burdened with additional responsibilities of data collection and analysis
  2. NITI Aayog must create a repository of best practices(as a benchmark) for dealing with implementation challenges, based on case studies from around the world

[op-ed snap] NITI Aayog and the emperor’s clothes

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Note4Students:

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy Issues relating to planning

NITI Aayog was seen as a new ray of hope that would totally transform policy making scenario and bring the country out of the Soviet influenced planning processes. But NITI Aayog hasn’t been able to fulfill all such hopes. The op-ed discusses all such issues and can be bookmarked to be used in Mains answers.

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: NITI Aayog, Its structure, mandate and other related topics.

Mains level: What are the issues that have been making NITI Aayog a near replica of Planning commission, what are the changes required and way forward.


Context:

  1. One of the key decisions taken by the government on assumption of office was to dismantle the Planning Commission, and replace it with a new body, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog
  2. NITI Aayog was expected to act as the principal government think tank and adviser to the Prime Minister on key policy issues, which can really transform India

Expectations unfulfilled:

  1. Issues with Planning Commission- The Planning Commission was a non-legislative body, with significant powers to allocate finances to states, but marred by bureaucratic processes and devoid of fresh thinking
  2. Main reason of failure- It failed to keep its ear to the ground, and did not take into account the divergent demands and capacities of states
  3. The creation of NITI Aayog was expected to be a game changer, to infuse new vigour and rigour in the policy planning process, involve key stakeholders, and address the failures of the previous plan body
  4. Anticipations- It was anticipated that it would prioritize the challenges faced by the economy and hit the ground running to address them in a transformational manner
  5. Work done- During the last two-and-a-half years, NITI Aayog has worked on several agendas, such as the promotion of digital payments, reforms in agriculture, education and railways, helping states undertake social sector reforms
  6. Autonomy still not available? While all these issues were important, and the suggestions made by NITI Aayog critical, it appears that the institution’s agenda and priorities are being set by government diktat rather than an organic, independent thought process
  7. Less clarity- For instance, while recognizing the importance of competition, it walked with the government on promoting digital payments through select entities, and kept mum when government policies distorted competition
  8. Work that remains to be done- NITI Aayog is yet to institutionalize a checks and balances mechanism to caution the government about the claims it makes, and apprise policymakers of the ground realities

Three-year action agenda- better than five year plans?

  1. NITI Aayog recently released a draft three-year action agenda, which is part of a 15-year vision and seven-year strategy document, which are yet to be released in public domain
  2. What is covers? The action agenda covers a wide range of issues, including the fiscal framework, agriculture, industry, services, transport, digital connectivity, public private partnership, energy, science, technology, governance, taxation, competition, environment, forests and water
  3. What is actually expected? When dealing with imminent challenges, such a wide-ranging approach is not expected
  4. For example, while covering pertinent issues and providing important recommendations such as “Price Deficiency Payment” to remove distortions in the existing minimum support price mechanism in the farm sector, there is limited clarity on how, by whom, and the timelines within which such suggestions would be implemented
  5. Collation of several policy-related recommendations- The action agenda appears more like a document collating several policy-related recommendations provided by experts and government-formulated committees over the years
  6. Good ideas would remain on paper- It puts limited or negligible focus on implementation challenges, bureaucratic reforms and government-citizen interaction, which is core to several good ideas remaining on paper and being left unimplemented

What should have been done?

  1. Rather than focusing on policy-level recommendations, NITI Aayog would have done better had it dealt with implementation-related challenges
  2. Steps that were needed- A clear action agenda on how policies should be implemented, the creation of a feedback loop, taking into account changes on the ground, and fixing accountability of babus, would have been welcome
  3. It should have focused on process reforms
  4. Cost-benefit analysis- Costs of implementing recommendations like creation of coastal employment zones must be compared with expected benefits in the medium term.

B2B

 

The Three Year Agenda

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: Structure, functions and objectives of NITI Aayog. Particulars of the three Year Action Agenda, the seven-year policy strategy and the 15-year long-term vision

Mains level: Very important op-ed on planning in future and its challenges. Important for Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy Issues relating to planning

News

Context

  1. The draft “Three Year Action Agenda” of the NITI Aayog has been circulated recently to its governing council
  2. This draft will be finalised after considering suggestions from the State Governments

Five-Year Plan

  1. After(Union Government) allowing for the 12th five-year plan to phase itself out, the transition is now complete
  2. Five-year plans are reminiscent of centrally planned economies; most such countries, like the Soviet Union, China and Romania, had similar planning horizons

Other documents in the pipeline

  1. The seven-year policy strategy
  2. The 15-year long-term vision

Objective of Three Year Action Agenda

  1. It seeks to embark on “a path to achieve all-round development of India and its people” through concerted action.

What are the advantages of a three-year timeline?

  1. Electoral cycles do not synchronise with (earlier)five-year plans; quite often, this entailed outcome accountability to rest with a successor government.
  2. But a “Three Year Action Agenda” makes the government in office more directly accountable for the implementation of its plans
  3. Augmenting the “Three Year Action Agenda” with a seven-year implementable policy strategy and a 15-year vision enables us to look into the future, particularly at evolving technology, demography and ecology, and accordingly align our policies
  4. The 15-year vision is also somewhat coterminous with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN). The new format thus combines domestic aspiration with global aims.

are the forecasts of macro variables realistic?

  1.  the agenda projects three scenarios for nominal GVA (Gross Value Added), namely, low growth, baseline and high growth.
  2. The nominal GVA is expected to increase by 11.6 per cent, 12.3 per cent and 13 per cent in the next three years under the baseline scenario
  3. These growth forecasts are aligned with recent trends and expectations of both national and international agencies
  4. Relying on the proposals forwarded by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Review Committee, the action agenda estimates a fall in the share of non-development revenue expenditure, both as a proportion of total budget expenditure and GDP ,As ill-advised distinction between revenue and capital expenditures has spurred a misallocation of resources
  5. The Gross Tax Revenue (GTR) forecasts under the “low growth” scenario closely resemble the rolling targets outlined in the Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement of Budget 2017-18.
  6. The direct tax to GDP ratio is expected to increase

how likely are we to achieve these targets?

  1. Given the healthy state of the Indian economy, downside risks to achieving growth targets largely emanate from exogenous factors: Unfavourable monsoons, global protectionist trends and spikes in oil prices could impinge our twin deficits
  2. Fortunately, a more robust approach on disinvestment and seeking strategic alliances is a positive factor. The public listing of PSUs will enable improved price discovery

how can we ensure effective implementation of the action agenda?

  1. The proposed plan needs broader support
  2. Important: Part of the problem is the current design of parliamentary processes and the milieu in which standing committees of Parliament examine various ministries
  3. More specifically, the Standing Committee on Finance examines matters related to three separate ministries, namely, finance, corporate affairs and statistics and programme implementation, along with the erstwhile Planning Commission

Cautions 

  1. There was scant attention given to or time available for analysing the broader issues of the five-year plans. We must prevent the NITI Aayog from meeting the same fate
  2. It would be advantageous to constitute a separate parliamentary committee on planning, which could meaningfully engage with the NITI Aayog’s policy prescriptions
  3. Delinking planning from finance has distinct advantages as functions of the treasury are neither symmetric, nor co-terminus with broader development issues
  4. Such separations would also be in line with best global practices
  5. Also, in the notification constituting the NITI Aayog, there is a provision to form “Regional Councils to address specific issues impacting more than one state or a region”. This is the right time to implement this enabling mandate

NITI Aayog for more research, less teaching

  1. The National Institution for the Transformation of India (NITI) Aayog has recommended that faculty at top institutions in India should prioritise research and be allowed to reduce their teaching responsibility, if required
  2. Reason: To ensure that investments in research by the government and private sector will bolster innovation and development in coming years
  3. Government-outlined Plan: This recommendation is a’part of a government-outlined plan to raise funding for 10 public and 10 private universities and help them to rank among the world’s best universities
  4. Vision document: These types of suggestions by NITI Aayog are part of three-year vision document that outlines targets and goals of Ministries from railways to environment, ought to achieve by 2020
  5. National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation: The NITI Aayog also pitches for a new ‘National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation’ headed by a distinguished scientist
  6. This organisation will coordinate with science and technology departments, ministries, governments and private sector bodies for achieving goals related to national issues of new innovations and development

Judicial performance index mooted

  1. The NITI Aayog has proposed the introduction of a judicial performance index
  2. Aim: To reduce delays and the outsourcing of non-core functions of the police to private agencies or other government departments, in a bid to fix justice system that is in ‘dire need of reform’
  3. Benefits: The creation of a judicial performance index that could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay
  4. The performance index for courts will entail fixing of ‘non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases to benchmark when a case has been delayed’
  5. The index can also include certain progress on process steps already approved by High Courts and such an annual evaluation should give judges in High Courts ‘a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix’
  6. Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those States
  7. Other recs: It has also mooted changes in criminal justice and procedural laws, a repeal of all irrelevant legislation by March 2019 and reforms in land ownership laws — which account for 67% of litigants in civil suits
  8. To improve the quality of policing, the think tank has asked the Home Ministry to create a task force to identify ‘non-core functions’ that can be outsourced to private agents or government departments in order to reduce the workload of the police
  9. India’s police to population ratio should reach the United Nations norms of 222 per lakh population, over the next seven years, from the current level of 137
  10. Women: Red-flagging the adverse implications of crimes against women beyond ‘the obvious horror for affected individuals’, the Aayog has asked the Home Ministry to push for greater hiring of women in the police force, with a target of 30% of all new recruits
  11. Enforcing contracts: Citing inordinate delays in India’s judicial system and its low rank on enforcing contracts in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report for 2017,
  12. NITI has also called for streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics on the workload of pending cases
  13. Such data will help enable “priority appointment of judges at the lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assess the number of judges needed to tackle pendency

Note4students:

The recommendations can be used in mains.

[op-ed snap] The long road to a high-growth future

Context:

  1. NITI Aayog is preparing a 15-year vision and a seven-year strategy document, and has circulated a three-year action agenda
  2. The goal of transforming India and attaining the desired level of economic and social outcomes will require higher and sustainable growth in coming years
  3. Higher economic growth will create employment, generate higher revenue and will help increase government spending without disturbing the budgetary balance

High growth:

  1. The vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, Arvind Panagariya, showed a compound annual growth of about 8%
  2. Higher growth is the best way of lifting standards of living, as has been demonstrated by China
  3. Attaining and sustaining this level of growth is feasible, but will need policy action on various fronts

Growth rate:

  1. India’s potential growth slipped to about 7% during 2009-15 compared with 8% during 2003-08
  2. The Indian economy is estimated to have expanded by 7.1% in the last fiscal

Focus of work: Strengthen macroeconomic fundamentals

  1. Firstly, focus on strengthening macroeconomic fundamentals
  2. A sound macroeconomic environment is a prerequisite for sustained higher growth
  3. The N.K. Singh committee has proposed a new fiscal architecture that will reduce the level of total debt stock with steady reduction in fiscal deficit
  4. On the monetary policy side, the RBI’s rate-setting committee is targeting 4% inflation on a durable basis
  5. Reason for softer growth: a decline in savings rate
  6. Higher growth in the last decade was backed by higher savings
  7. India’s savings rate is estimated to have declined from the level of about 37% of the gross domestic product in 2007-08 to under 30% in 2016-17
  8. India will need higher savings to sustain higher growth

Focus of work: banking sector

  1. Secondly, fix the banking sector
  2. It is now well accepted that high levels of NPAs—particularly in public sector banks—are a drag on investments and growth
  3. The sector needs a fresh road map to address the current problems and also to provide the necessary checks and balances
  4. NITI Aayog’s action agenda has suggested auctioning assets to private asset reconstruction companies
  5. For a durable solution, the government should reconsider its role in the sector
  6. A significant reduction in government holding in banks will augur well for the economy
  7. India needs a lively corporate bond market as it will provide an alternative source of financing and reduce pressure on banking sector
  8. A vibrant, competitive and stable financial sector will help push investment and growth in the near future

Focus of work: land and labour markets

  1. Thirdly, improve conditions in land and labour markets
  2. In order to sustain higher growth, the government will need to make it easier for businesses to acquire land and hire labour
  3. The small and informal nature of business enterprises in India affects productivity and is an impediment to growth
  4. One of the reasons for having too many small enterprises is rigid labour laws
  5. The government should work on creating a flexible labour market, which will allow businesses to take advantage of economies of scale
  6. The government also needs to make it easier for businesses to acquire land
  7. A number of projects are stuck because of land acquisition problems
  8. Reforms in these markets would require greater coordination between the Centre and states

Focus of work: review government functioning

  1. The government needs to review its own functioning and change in a way that allows the market to attain its full potential
  2. For instance, it will need to withdraw from commercial activities through privatization and focus on strengthening regulatory capabilities
  3. The recent decision of the Narendra Modi government to impose price caps on coronary stents is an example of exactly what the government should not be doing
  4. Price caps inevitably result in shortages with adverse consequences. The government should always avoid such decisions

Note4Students:

The policymakers need to constantly work on multiple levels in order to create enabling conditions that will allow the Indian economy to develop at a rapid pace and achieve long-term goals.

Reorient social sector subsidies: NITI Aayog

  1. Context: NITI’s three-year action plan for the economy
  2. India’s social sector subsidies should be reoriented so that beneficiaries don’t become dependent on them
  3. It mooted a reduction in food subsidies as a proportion of GDP by 2019-20 through better targeting and rationalisation measures
  4. Rationale: Within revenue expenditures, subsidies have tended to crowd out the socially more productive expenditures such as those on education and health
  5. The social subsidies should be reoriented so that beneficiaries become economically independent instead of remaining perpetually dependent on them

Note4students:

Can be used in mains answer. Note the rationale.

NITI Aayog mulls taxing agriculture income

  1. Context: NITI’s three-year action agenda, discussed at the Governing Council meeting
  2. NITI Aayog has suggested that agriculture income be brought under the purview of personal Income Tax in a bid to curb tax evasion
  3. Why tax? All agricultural income is currently exempted from Income Tax regardless of its size
  4. While the provision is meant to protect farmers, non-agricultural entities sometimes use it to evade taxes by declaring agriculture as the source of their income
  5. In order to mitigate the generation of black money, the loopholes need to be plugged
  6. This would also widen the tax base and more funds could be made available for the social sector schemes
  7. Tax base: A key limitation of personal Income Tax regime is the small tax base
  8. In assessment year 2014-15, only 3.65 crore individuals filed returns. Of this group, only 1.91 crore individuals or around 1.5% of the population paid any Income Tax at all
  9. This situation is not optimal and therefore, we should endeavour to bring a large number of citizens into the direct tax net even if their tax liabilities are minimal
  10. Other recs: The Aayog has also proposed reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19 and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20
  11. It has also suggested that high and rising share of NPAs in India’s bank be addressed through supporting the auction of larger assets to private asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) and strengthening State Bank of India-led ARC
  12. The Aayog said there is a need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land
  13. This can be done through measures such as releasing the land held by sick units
  14. It has also called for reforming the Rent Control Act along the lines of Model Tenancy Act and promoting dormitory housing

Note4students:

Very important for mains. Note all the recommendations and the rationale.

NITI Aayog mulls taxing agriculture income

  1. Govt think-tank NITI Aayog has suggested that agriculture income be brought under the purview of personal Income Tax in a bid to curb tax evasion
  2. Event: In its three-year action agenda, discussed at the Governing Council meeting, the Aayog reasoned that non-agricultural entities sometimes use the blanket relief to evade taxes
  3. All agricultural income is currently exempted from Income Tax regardless of its size
  4. While the provision is meant to protect farmers, non-agricultural entities sometimes use it to evade taxes by declaring agriculture as the source of their income
  5. A key limitation of personal Income Tax regime is the small tax base
  6. In assessment year 2014-15, only 3.65 crore individuals filed returns. Of this group, only 1.91 crore individuals or around 1.5% of the population paid any Income Tax at all
  7. Therefore, the govt should endeavour to bring a large number of citizens into the direct tax net even if their tax liabilities are minimal
  8. There were about 225 million households in India of which roughly 2/3rd were in rural India. Rural India was effectively out of the purview of all personal income taxation
  9. The three-year agenda, which Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya said has been prepared through extensive consultation with state governments, enlists 300 specific action points
  10. The document has 7 parts with 24 chapters
  11. Other recommendations: The Aayog has also proposed reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19 and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20
  12. It has also suggested that high and rising share of NPAs in India’s bank be addressed through supporting the auction of larger assets to private asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) and strengthening State Bank of India-led ARC
  13. The Aayog said there was a need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land
  14. This can be done through measures such as releasing the land held by sick units
  15. It has also called for reforming the Rent Control Act along the lines of Model Tenancy Act and promoting dormitory housing

NITI to present new plan approach

  1. Context: A meeting of the governing council of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister
  2. A new three-year policy action plan to replace the old system of five-year plans will be discussed
  3. The three-year action plan will also include a strategy to spruce up the law and order situation
  4. Besides the new planning process, the council is likely to take up for discussion issues such as increasing farmer incomes and urban development
  5. This is the first time that an economic policy document will also focus on judicial reforms and how to improve law and order and the police system. There will be an entire chapter dedicated to it
  6. Background: The practice of five-year plans, being followed for over six decades, ended with the 12th Plan that concluded on March 31 this year
  7. NITI Aayog which was set up in December 2014 after abolishing the Planning Commission, will now come out with a 15-year vision document that is to be supplemented by a seven-year strategy and three-year action plans
  8. Farmer incomes: The Council, that includes all chief ministers as members, will be presented with “detailed plans on doubling of farmers’ income”
  9. The Prime Minister had in February last year urged all state governments to give priority to boosting the agriculture sector with a target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022
  10. For the short-term, the Aayog is likely to recommend measures such as direct purchase from farmers by private players, direct sale by farmers to consumers, to allow farmers to get the larger share of the prices that the end consumer pays
  11. One of the long term strategies will be to encourage farmers to move to high-value products such as Animal Husbandry and Fishery
  12. Report card: The Aayog is also likely to place before the council a report card on its two years as an institution
  13. It has a different way of thinking. The Planning Commission used to also allocate funds to the states. NITI’s relation with the states is more equal

Note4students:

Track the update from the meet. The recommendations can well be used in mains. Also know about NITI Aayog from your polity book from prelims PoV.

[op-ed snap] Leaving no one behind

Context:

  1. The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) is formulating a Vision 2030 document
  2. This document is coterminous with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), all 17 of which equally affect persons with disabilities as they do any other citizen

Inclusive development goals:

  1. The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People conducted a seminar in December 2016
  2. The government, the private sector, and leaders from various development fields participated to take stock of the current situation and deliberate on how disability could be integrated in Vision 2030

How to go about it?

  1. The government, the NITI Aayog, and all the associated stakeholders should interpret the provisions of the SDGs in line with the requirements and spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
  2. Disability is still seen as an opportunity for dispensing charity rather than as a development or a human rights issue
  3. The knowledge of MPs and State legislatures must be refreshed on the rights, needs and issues of persons with disabilities based on the changing disability landscape, the UNCRPD, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
  4. The NITI Aayog must invest effort in building awareness for NGOs, academics, civil society, the private sector, etc., in order to articulate a disability-inclusive development agenda
  5. Persons with disabilities must be seen as integral to the decision-making process and not as an afterthought
  6. They must be mentioned in the outcome metrics defined for each goal, target or indicator, and these matrices must elaborate specific strategies for persons with disabilities
  7. There must be seven-year checkpoints for ministries or departments to assess the outcomes
  8. Fair and adequate representation of disability groups during the consultation process is imperative

NITI Aayog’s endeavor:

  1. The NITI Aayog has mapped each goal to a nodal ministry and each target with the government’s key programmes and departments to make these targets accountable and realise them within a specified time period
  2. However, disability is an issue that cuts across several ministries; it is not just a subject for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  3. There are 26 ministries where there needs to be a dedicated focus towards persons with disabilities and a specific cell to address their concerns
  4. Specific budgets need to be allocated across initiatives and ministries to address the needs of persons with disabilities
  5. The NITI Aayog too must have a dedicated cell which acts as a focal point and works with all ministries to monitor implementation and track progress across all initiatives for persons with disabilities

Data collection:

  1. The document must insist that data for persons with disabilities are appropriately collected, maintained and disaggregated
  2. This must include all government initiatives that capture any data related to population or human resources or human development, including employment, education, poverty and hunger
  3. While reporting from the SDGs’ point of view, the NITI Aayog must ensure that the process of data collection and disaggregation for disability must not be relegated to the silos of seven targets which explicitly mention persons with disabilities, or the additional six targets which mention people in vulnerable situations
  4. In addition, there are universal targets, which must also be achieved for persons with disabilities
  5. There are more than 85 targets across 15 goals encompassing more than 100 indicators where there is a need to collect, analyse, disaggregate and report data for persons with disabilities
  6. All data must be available in the public domain, and published in an accessible format and in a timely manner

Note4Students:

The overarching principle of Vision 2030 is to “leave no one behind”. The disabled citizens are anxious to learn how this crucial document, which will encompass the SDGs 17 goals and 169 targets, will be inclusive of their needs and aspirations. Important op-ed for mains. Know key facts for prelims.

NITI Aayog rolls out health index

  1. What: NITI Aayog on Friday rolled out a ‘Performance on Health Outcomes’ index that will rank various States on the basis of their performance on measurable health indicators
  2. It is meant to capture the annual incremental improvements by States, rather than focus on historical achievements
  3. This initiative is envisioned to bring about the much required improvements in social sector outcomes, which have not kept pace with the economic growth in this country
  4. It will be used to propel action in the States to improve health outcomes and improve data collection systems
  5. The health index will assist in State-level monitoring of performance, serve as an input for providing performance-based incentives and improvement in health outcomes
  6. It includes indicators in the domains of health outcomes governance and information and a few key inputs and processes

Note4students:

This index is important for prelims. Remember the agency which came out with it and its purpose.

Give tax breaks for digital payments, says Niti Aayog I

  1. What: Niti Aayog has proposed giving tax breaks to consumers and merchants for debit or credit card payments
  2. It has also suggested levying surcharge for cash transactions beyond a set limit to encourage electronic transactions
  3. Reason: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant pitched for encouraging e-payments for driving online commerce
  4. This would also bring in greater transparency and higher tax collection for the government
  5. In South Korea, the government promoted electronic payments by providing tax breaks on electronic transactions

Give tax breaks for digital payments, says Niti Aayog II

  1. E-commerce: Mr.Kant observed that e-commerce contributed about only 1% to the total retail market as compared to 14% in China
  2. It was pointed out that existing legislation does not recognise e-commerce consumers
  3. Niti Aayog recommended early enactment of Consumer Protection Bill 2005 introduced in Lok Sabha in October 2015
  4. And also updating National Consumer Helpline regularly for e-commerce complaints

Five-year Plans out, 15-year vision soon- II

  1. The current 12th Five-Year Plan will be terminated in the current financial year, 2016-17 in order to facilitate the 15 year vision document
  2. The mid-term appraisal of the 12th Plan is also not done though it was due after the completion of two-and-a- half years
  3. PMO has also instructed NITI Aayog to undertake outcome-based monitoring of all government programmes and ministries on a yearly basis
  4. Aim: Keeping a tab on the progress made and work done

About the National Development Agenda

  1. The agenda will lay down the schemes, programmes and strategies to achieve the long-term vision
  2. It will also deal with issues related to internal security, defence and external affairs (Planning Commission rarely dealt with these issues directly)
  3. Review: After a gap of every three years to ensure that it was aligned with financial needs and requirements
  4. For the first Development Agenda, the review would be done in 2019-20, in line with the termination year of the 14th Finance Commission

Five-year Plans out, 15-year vision soon- I

  1. Vision Doc: Govt has decided to get rid of the five-year plans and replace them with 15-year vision documents
  2. These will be framed keeping in mind the country’s social goals and the sustainable development agenda
  3. The first 15-year vision document will start from 2017-18 & NITI Aayog has been directed to prepare a vision document at the earliest
  4. Also there will be a 7-year National Development Agenda

NITI Aayog plans new planning framework

  1. News: NITI Aayog is working on a sector-based medium-term planning framework
  2. The medium-term growth is dependent on past performance
  3. Purpose: The new planning framework could replace five-year plans, as XII FYP will end in FY 2016-17
  4. Challenge: Long-term growth can only be enhanced by structural reforms and improving the productive capacity of the economy

Plans to revive Investment Commission

  1. Context: Centre is planning to revive Investment Commission
  2. Aim: Arresting India’s falling investment rate
  3. Relevance: Earlier, it functioned under the finance ministry from December 2004 to December 2009
  4. In new form, it could be part of NITI Aayog
  5. Function: To make recommendations to govt on policies and procedures to facilitate investment

NITI Aayog: 2nd regional consultation

  1. Context: 2nd Regional Consultations on Agricultural Development in New Delhi
  2. Held by: NITI Task Force on Agricultural Development under the chairmanship of Vice Chair Arvind Panagariya
  3. Demands: southern states pitched for preparation of a model land leasing act and higher remunerative prices for farmers
  4. Other areas: shared best practices in area of agriculture and water resources; river linking and water conservation and harvesting; emphasis on strengthening of agricultural co-operatives

NITI Aayog wants formula to transfer funds to states

NITI Aayog has called for the creation of an objective and transparent formula to distribute central funds to states under the centrally sponsored schemes (CSS)

  1. This is in line with the recommendation of the sub-group on rationalisation of CSS
  2. State govts should have a broad appreciation of the quantum of Central funds that is committed to them scheme-wise
  3. This helps them to plan better and also ensure speedier execution of CSS
  4. Task of creating the formula has been entrusted to a 3-member committee with the secretary of the nodal ministry implementing the CSS as the chairman
  5. NITI Aayog will give its inputs and recommendations based on consultation with all state governments

NDC to be scrapped, NITI Aayog council likely to get its powers

  1. The Cabinet will take up NDCs closure and pass a resolution for transferring its powers to the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog.
  2. PM will take up the resolution with the CMs at a meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog.
  3. National Development Council (NDC) was setup in 1952 by an executive order.
  4. It served as the highest decision making authority in the country on development matters.

Let’s know more about NITI Aayog?

  1. Union Government had replaced Planning Commission with a new institution named National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) on 1 January 2015.
  2. The aim is to foster involvement and participation in economic policy-making process by the State Governments, a “bottom-up” approach to planning.
  3. Noted Economist Arvind Panagariya was appointed Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog.
  4. Economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO chief V K Saraswat were appointed as full-time members.

Amitabh Kant appointed CEO of NITI Aayog

Decision in this regard was taken by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi.

  1. Senior IAS officer Amitabh Kant has been given additional charge as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.
  2. Mr. Kant’s appointment comes after incumbent NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar’s extended tenure is coming on 31st December 2015.
  3. Amitabh Kant is IAS officer of 1980 Batch of Kerala Cadre.
  4. Presently, he is serving as Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and is expected to retire in March 2016.

NITI Panel Proposes Agri Reforms to Curb Price Rise

NITI Aayog’s Task Force on Agriculture has recommended big bang reforms to address issue of frequent spurt in crop prices.

  1. Report talks about the need for reforms in the agriculture sector in a big way to address issues.
  2. As Bad weather, fluctuation in crop prices, and demand and supply problems in the long term.

Important Recommendations 

  • Guaranteed prices for at least half the key crops
  • Setting up of a unified national agriculture market
  • Changing land lease laws
  • Mechanism to facilitate easy exit for farmers who want to move out of agriculture.

NITI Aayog panel moots private funding for R&D

A NITI Aayog panel on innovation has recommended that the private sector should help fund R&D, including in research labs at universities and startups.

  1. The panel has also recommended improved tax benefits for investments equivalent to a percentage of corporate profits.
  2. The panel also suggested a ‘Make in Universities’ program which would involve setting up 500 tinkering labs.
  3. It also recommended Grand Prizes approach to finding ultra-low-cost solutions to India’ s most intractable problems.
  4. Incentivised innovation has worked around the world in stimulating innovation.

People’s Planning Campaign and NITI Aayog

  1. Kerala’s People’s Planning Commission (PPC) and the NITI Aayog are similar models of planning.
  2. The PPC was introduced in the mid 1990’s is not fully implemented in Kerala, but fiscal decentralisation is done by PPC while NITI Ayog plays the role of facilitator.

UIDAI shifted to IT ministry from NITI Aayog

  1. Earlier, UIDAI was the part of Planning Commission.
  2. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar cards, has been shifted to the administrative control of the ministry of communication and information technology from NITI Aayog.
  3. Move to shift UIDAI from NITI Aayog is taken keeping in mind govt’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ plan as Aadhaar numbers are being linked with several services
  4. Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by UIDAI.

NITI Aayog plans subsidy regime revamp

  1. NITI Aayog proposes to marry data from Aadhaar, the Jan Dhan accounts & the socio economic & caste census to better target subsidies.
  2. The plan has been inspired by the so-called JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) trinity proposed by the finance ministry.
  3. The estimated direct fiscal cost of both central and state government subsidies is about Rs.3.78 trillion, or about 4.2% of GDP.


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